37. Medina Azahara Palace, Cordoba
At the end of the first millennium, Islam was at its height in Spain, with powerful regional
caliphates (kingdoms). Córdoba's caliph, Abd-al Rahman III , ordered the construction of
Medina Azahara, not as a permanent residence but a as a display of the caliphate's power,
to impress allies and enemies. The legend says that the palace was dedicated to the king's
lover, Azahara, thus its name.
At the time of its construction, Medina Azahara was one of the largest and more impressive
palaces in the world, with three huge levels divided in areas residential, military, and diplo-
matic use. A Mosque was built in the first level.
The caliph didn't spare any expenses in Medina Azahara, and the richest materials were
used, such as gold, marble of several colors, and precious stones. Unfortunately, the ca-
liphate fought several wars during that era, and the palace ended up being destroyed, but
even the remains that survived can give us an idea of its past magnificence.
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